Set against the divergent landscape of British Columbia — from the splendours of nature to its immense dangers, from urban grease and grit to dry, desert towns — Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility examines human beings and their many frailties with breathtaking insight and accuracy.
Théodora Armstrong peoples her stories with characters as richly various — and as compelling — as her settings. A soon-to-be father and haute cuisine chef mercilessly berates his staff while facing his lack of preparedness for parenthood. A young girl revels in the dark drama of the murder of a girl from her neighbourhood, until she begins to suspect that her troubled brother might be the murderer. A novice air-traffic specialist must come to terms with his first loss — the death of a pilot — on his watch. And the dangers of deep canyons and powerful currents spur on the reckless behaviour of teenagers as they test the limits of bravery, friendship, and sex.
With startling intimacy and language stripped bare, Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility announces the arrival of Théodora Armstrong as a striking new literary voice.
A worthwhile, well-honed collection that's probing and nuanced... Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility also highlights an author whose regional scope ought to be appreciated well past the borders of British Columbia.
[Théodora Armstrong’s] stories are direct and non-apologetic, fluid and intelligent, and especially good at delineating a desire to connect and the lack of ability to make that connection.
With this impressive debut collection, Théodora Armstrong establishes herself as a fresh and multi-faceted talent, capable of mining everyday human dramas to create evocative and lasting tales about the human condition.
...an exceptional debut.
Armstrong’s tales are indeed satisfying; the book is delicious from start to finish... Her gritty realism and rich, crisp prose have been compared to that of Raymond Carver and Flannery O'Connor. High praise indeed. Clear Skies is the kind of collection that leaves you satisfied, but wanting more.
Théodora Armstrong['s] first collection of striking, realist stories, Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility, is an exceptional debut.
…Armstrong writes beautifully…
[Armstrong] is a fresh, new voice in Canadian short fiction, but a fresh, new voice that’s already proven her to be a force in the form. [Her] fiction is very human, taut with tension, and replete with well-drawn characters. Certainly a strong debut collection.
Théodora Armstrong’s début collection launches House of Anansi Press’s new short-fiction imprint, Astoria, in impressive fashion. This is a writer to watch, and a book not to be missed... These darkly intimate and subtly heart-breaking pieces are pure pleasure to read. Armstrong is an electrifying new voice on the short fiction scene.
The stories in this collection are a rare phenomenon, capable of taking the reader to places so familiar one forgets they’ve never been there. The writing is crisp, taut, and evocative, and each story has a separate pleasure to give. Théodora Armstrong is a terrifically talented young writer, and this is a superb début.
These fresh, edgy, unflinching stories about contemporary life on the urban and rural West Coast will resonate with readers at all stages of life: parents watching their children grow up too quickly, young couples starting families, brothers and sisters at crossroads in life coping with the fraying adulthood brings to childhood bonds.
In these moving and meticulously described stories, Théodora Armstrong expertly cultivates her characters in the rich, dirty-realist soil of Raymond Carver and Flannery O'Connor. The writing in this collection boils with meaning, beauty and menace, and signals the liftoff of an exciting new literary talent.
Armstrong’s themes of agency and inevitability are distilled to their essence and given another ironic twist, and her typically spare language is honed to a fine edge.